Never leave your first love!

July 27, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
(Revelation 2:4 (NKJV))

The church at Ephesus did many things right, but it all came collapsing down with this single statement!

Have you ever wondered what they had left? Have you ever thought that they simply got in a routine of doing things that were righteous, but forgot the reasons behind why they did them? They did good works. They labored for the sake of the Gospel. They had learned patience and they hated evil. They could even spot false apostles, but what good did it do them if they had left their first love? They had forgotten the love of Jesus and without that love, everything is meaningless. They had faith. They had hope, but they no longer had love!

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV))

Without love, you soon find yourself focusing on the letter of the law and not the intent. The Pharisees focused on the letter of the law. Jesus came to show that God’s intent was love. In essence, when you lose love, you become a Pharisee, and you insist on telling others what to do while not doing it yourself. You create a double standard in which you judge others but seek grace for yourself. This is completely contrary to what Jesus taught.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV))

We are to love each other as we love ourselves!

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 (NIV))

It was out of love that Jesus came into the world. It was out of love that He taught. It was out of love that He went to the cross. His love covers all of our sins. What we are called to do is love others in such a way that they are covered in Christ! If you have forgotten how to love, then it is time to follow through on what Jesus told the church at Ephesus.

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
(Revelation 2:5 (NKJV))

Never leave your first love!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you know?

June 21, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
(Romans 8:28 (NIV))

This is a difficult thing for many people to grasp, for they see only the immediate results of things as they happen. Humanity does not have the luxury of being able to see the long term consequences of any given event or series of events.

All too often we jump to worldly conclusions and do not see the “God” scheme of things. No matter what we may face in this life, we must remember that God is in control. If we are His through the grace and mercy granted through His Son Jesus Christ, then our ultimate good is heaven. If that is true, then everything that happens in this world can be taken as a temporary situation. This is hard to fathom when a loved one faces death or when a country faces terrorism, but, we must remember that what we see in the physical world is only a small fraction of the battle that goes on in the spiritual world.

If we hold steadfast in our faith in Jesus, then we are assured of our “good.”

What do you know?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you acknowledge such great love?

May 31, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

I know that this is a repeat, but some things are worth repeating.

It is that time of year when we remember those men and women who have given their lives for our country. I can’t attest to the relationships that each of these people had with Jesus, but I know one thing is certain. They valued the principles that placed the lives and well being of others above their own needs. Thankfully, I still see this in many people today.

There is a quote that I feel summarizes this willing sacrifice quite well.

“Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you; Jesus Christ and the American G. I. One died for your soul; the other for your freedom.”
Author: Unknown

Today, like every other day of the year, I am truly thankful for each type of sacrifice that has been made. I am prayerfully thankful for the grace and mercy that was freely given through the atoning blood of Jesus on the cross. For this I am eternally grateful.

I am also thankful for the men and women who have answered the call to defend the freedoms that we, as American citizens, have. It is through their sacrifice that we have the great opportunity to choose to worship Jesus as well as when, where and how. Sadly, there are people who reject both sacrifices. It is with humble heart that I present this request to the Body of Christ. The times are urgent. The need is great. We must be bold and do what we are called to do to spread the Gospel. We must be willing to lay down our lives so that others may know the freedoms that we know.

Do you acknowledge such great love?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What does your life show?

April 29, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
(Luke 6:27-31 (NIV))

What has happened to these basic tenants of life?

These words were written as directions on how to live life for those who placed the value of others above themselves. Today, we have become a society of “me” oriented, selfish people who seem to have only one thing on their minds – What do I get out of this?

Is this what Jesus came to this earth to teach us? Did He come to tell us to place ourselves above all others and to hold selfishness, lust, greed and power as our primary objectives for living?

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

How do we have a full life?

Take another look at the words of Luke 6:27-31. All of the actions that we are told to do have a very strong undertone to them. They all have the core fundamentals of love. This love is not the romantic type that our society has come to expect, but, rather, it is the self-sacrificing type of love that requires a spiritual commitment far above the hormonally induced “romantic” love that we see in our lives.

The mark of a true follower of Jesus is a purposeful and deliberate decision to do what Jesus would do. Jesus would offer love, yet He would also offer a way for redemption. We can’t offer redemption, but we can lead people to Jesus, who can give redemption. Perhaps it is this simple task that shows our love the most. We show a hurting world a means of grace and mercy.

What does your life show?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you hopeful and confident in your faith?

April 26, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
(John 14:3 (NIV))

Every believer clings to this verse!

Have you ever stopped to contemplate why we cling to this verse? I am certain that each of us have our own reasons, but everything truly comes down to how we view God and how we view this world. I honestly believe that we cling to this verse because we don’t like the sinful, fallen nature of the world in which we find ourselves living. We cling to this verse because we despise the fact that God’s goodness is called evil and what God calls evil is called good. We cling to this verse because we long for His righteousness to prevail over this fallen world. We cling to this verse because we long to be in the presence of the Lord! In just a few words, God has given us so much to reflect upon and so much to rejoice about.

These words are filled with a promise that we can trust.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

These words solidify in our minds the greatness of God’s love for us by providing details of how that love will manifest itself for all of eternity.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

Perhaps the biggest aspect of this verse is the unbridled hope that it gives the person who professes a belief in Jesus, and from that hope, faith matures!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

In essence, if there is no hope, then confidence cannot develop. If there is no confidence, then faith cannot grow. Without hope, we are lost!

Jesus planted hope with these words. He gave us the confidence of His promises, and He instilled in each believer the seed of faith with the promise to prepare a place for those who believe. He didn’t stop there. He took it to the next level by proclaiming that He would return for those whom He has prepared a place! These few words give us a reason to persevere in the face of adversity. They give us a reason to face the world even when the world seems to be targeting us and has us directly in its cross hairs. These words help us to remember the power and the promise that Jesus spoke for those who believe.

With the events of this world, it seems that the enemy is doing his best to destroy the hope of everyone, but in particular, he wants to destroy the hope of those who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. We must not lose the hope that we have through Jesus, for if we lose the hope that makes us confident, then faith is also lost. When the world is getting you down, look up! Look up and imagine the place that Jesus is preparing for you. Look up and pray for strength to continue to be faithful. Look up and pray to continue to be confident. Look up in hope!

Are you hopeful and confident in your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you keeping His commands?

April 19, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If you love me, keep my commands.
(John 14:15 (NIV))

Is it just me, or are the last three words extremely difficult to achieve?

If you truly profess a faith in Jesus, then you should truly love Jesus for who He is and for what He has done, but human nature always creeps into the picture!

Ever since the fall from grace, human nature has been incapable of perfectly following God’s instructions. We always miss the mark. We always sin. Even after the grace and mercy freely given to us at the cross, we are incapable of perfectly following God’s instructions. But, if you truly stop to think about this, that is exactly why we were given the gift of grace and mercy. Even after acknowledging our sinful nature, we still sin. Accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior does not make you perfect on your own merit. It makes you perfect because you have exchanged your imperfections and sin for His perfection and righteousness in the eyes of God.

What does change is the desire to keep His commands!

What does change is the understanding that you will constantly fail.

What does change is your realization that He died to save you from the consequences of your sins.

What does change is your sinful, selfish attitude to a thankful, loving attitude.

What does change is your desire to strive to follow Him in all that you do.

Keeping His commands is not easy. If it were easy, Jesus would not have come into this world to die for our sins. What is easier is repenting when we fall short. What is easier is having a thankful heart for His grace and mercy. As I stated, keeping His commands is not easy, but striving to follow Jesus is the ultimate sign of your love for Him.

Are you keeping His commands?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you dwell in the presence of the Lord?

March 18, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Surely goodness and love will follow me
      all the days of my life,
   and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
      forever.
(Psalms 23:6 (NIV))

There are houses and there are homes. There are buildings and then there are dwellings. What makes the difference is a matter of attitude. A house is simply a place to sleep. A home is a place of refuge and comfort. A building is simply four walls. A dwelling is someplace that you have completely moved in to and have made it your own.

God is looking for those who wish to make His presence their home. He is looking to believers to desire to dwell in His presence. He does not want us to simply come into His presence to sleep and then go our own way. He wants us to long to be at home in His presence. He desires for us to desire Him and be completely content; to be completely at peace with Him.

Peace!

Perhaps that is what makes the difference between a house and a home and a building and a dwelling. Peace allows you to settle in and to get comfortable. God wants us to get comfortable in His presence.

Are you comfortable in God’s presence?

Are you at home in God’s presence?

Do you dwell in the presence of the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Keep your mind soundly aware of God’s power and love!

March 16, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
(2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV))

What is your reaction when you look at the current state of the world?

If you are like me, you are probably shaking your head in disbelief as common sense has become more uncommon as each day passes. Even in the midst of all of the current events in this world, we must not lose hope as we continually focus on what we have been told will happen.

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
(Matthew 24:6-8 (NIV))

When you read these words from Matthew, did you read them in fear or did you have a peace from knowing that we have been told about the very things that are unfolding right before us? For those who have been with me for a while, you may remember that at one point I mentioned that when these words were written a nation referred to a people group and a kingdom referred to what we today now call a nation. In other words, nation will rise against nation refers to what we are seeing today with all of the racial strife. Kingdom against kingdom refers to all of the tensions between countries. Even in the midst of all of this and so much more, we must rely on Jesus.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 (ESV))

No matter what we may see as things unfold right before our eyes, we must not lose sight of the fact that we can face all things if we keep our eyes focused on Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of our faith! Through Jesus, we have nothing to fear. We can fully rely on His power and His love as assurances of what has been promised. We can boldly face anything when our minds are firmly and soundly focused on Jesus.

It is a matter of focus.

As humans, we have the ability to choose what we see. We can cast our gaze upon the text in a book and still see the surrounding room, but the details of that room are not clear. If we choose to shift our focus to the details in the room, the text in the book becomes lost in our periphery. In much the same manner as we can choose to focus on what is right in front of us, we can choose what to focus on when it comes to peace or fear. We can look at the world and fear comes into focus or we can look to the Lord and fear goes away!

What do you see when you see the world?

If you are not seeing the power and love of God, then change your focus!

Keep your mind soundly aware of God’s power and love!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We have no reason to be timid!

March 1, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV))

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt timid and intimidated?

Do you remember details about that situation and why you felt like that?

According to Merriam-Webster, we feel this way because we lack courage or self-confidence. We lack boldness or determination. In other words, we feel inferior and because of this we want to retreat and hide.

Does this sound like an attitude that anyone should have who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior?

We have a hope and a faith that should spur us on because our hope and faith are placed in the only One who has the power and authority to back up the claims.

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
(2 Corinthians 3:12 (NIV))

It all comes down to a simple question that Jesus asked long ago and is still asking each of us to this day.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
(Matthew 16:15 (NIV))

Your answer will determine so much. The wrong answer will leave you doubting. The right answer will give you assurance and boldness. It will give you confidence. It will give you a peace that passes understanding. It will give you the power and the authority to call upon Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. It will prove beyond any doubt that you are loved by God. It will prove that you are a redeemed child of God!

We have no reason to be timid!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Deliverance requires faith in the shepherd!

February 12, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
    he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
    He guides me in paths of righteousness
        for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
        through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
        for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
        they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
        in the presence of my enemies.
    You anoint my head with oil;
        my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
        all the days of my life,
    and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
        forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 (NIV))

David hit the nail on the head when he wrote this!

It is the prayer of every believer. It is the hope of every believer. God will provide for us in ways that we can only imagine. If we fully rely on Him, then He will deliver us, He will guide us, He will prepare a place for us.

When faced with what the world sends our way, we have a shelter to run to. Peace is what God offers. Chaos is what the world offers. The natural order of things since Adam and Eve fell is degeneration. Through God, we can be made new again. It only takes a simple act of faith.

The faith that Jesus Christ is God’s only begotten Son, and our only Lord and Savior.

Do you possess this faith?

Deliverance requires faith in the shepherd!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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